Acknowledging the proud tradition and promising future of its nursing programs, Niagara University has officially established a school of nursing.
The change in designation from a "department" to a "school" is an academic distinction viewed internally as a strategic branding opportunity for Niagara's flourishing cadre of nursing programs.
"Our intent in creating this structure is to substantially elevate the visibility of Niagara nursing as a globally recognized program," said Timothy Downs, Ph.D., provost. "For many years, our nursing faculty and staff have fostered a student-centered learning environment that responds to industry needs by graduating the health care leaders of tomorrow. This change in status is a fitting recognition and a strong confirmation of the exceptional work being carried out by our students and faculty."
Frances S. Crosby, Ed.D., Class of 1967, who chaired the Niagara nursing department since 2006, will serve as director of the new school of nursing. Michael H. Ackerman, '80, DNS, assumes the position of associate director.
The school of nursing will remain housed under the university's College of Arts and Sciences and championed by its dean, Timothy Ireland, Ph.D.
"The school of nursing designation confirms our long-term commitment to the outstanding quality of our nursing education programs," Ireland said. "Not only does it reflect the excellence of our nursing program today, but it also positions us for future growth, focusing on innovation in education, funded research and community partnerships."
Niagara began offering nursing programs in 1946. Since 2006, the university has offered a nursing degree completion program that caters to students who are already registered nurses. In the fall of 2012, as a result of a spike in demand, Niagara added a four-year B.S. and an accelerated B.S. in nursing. The programs maintain very strong subscription, with more than 270 students enrolled this semester.
Last December, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education reaccredited Niagara University's nursing programs through 2023. The university is also approved by the New York State Department of Education.
NU has established a strong relationship with Catholic Health, a nonprofit health care system that provides care to Western New Yorkers through a network of hospitals, primary care centers and other facilities. Catholic Health currently sponsors a cohort of 30 nursing staff members in the degree completion program.
A grand opening of Niagara University's $1.5 million nursing simulation center is scheduled for Thursday. The state-of-the-art facility will provide "hands-on" opportunities for students to manage patient encounters and skills in a risk-free, virtual reality environment, while supporting traditional classroom learning and clinical practice experiences.
"This is a very exciting time for nursing at Niagara University," Crosby said. "We are eager to build upon Niagara's long tradition of excellence in nursing education through the wonderful support of our faculty, staff, administrators, students and alumni."
Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012-22, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS reports growth will occur for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventative care; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for health care services from the baby boomer population, as members live longer and more active lives.
For more information about Niagara University's nursing programs, visit www.niagara.edu/nursing or call 716-286-7358.